How To Prevent Identity Theft
By taking these steps, you can deter ID theft from the source:
- Don’t give out personal info over the phone, through the mail or over the internet.
- Safeguard your personal information in a secure place at home.
- Shred documents with personal information
- Protect your SS#.
- Pick up new checks at the credit union versus having them mailed to your home.
- Mail bills from locked mailbox or Post Office
- Beware of Shoulder Surfers at ATM’s or Stores
More helpful tips...
- Use electronic deposit of paychecks, dividends, pension and Social Security payments and tax refunds
- Don’t authorize payments over the phone unless you call a specific/known creditor
- Keep a list in a safe place of credit/share draft account numbers, expiration dates, and phone numbers to report theft.
Your Social Security Number
Your Social Security number has since come to be used as a unique identifier for individuals within the United States. Therefore, it is important to keep it safe and to use it only when it is necessary.
- Never give your SSN, account numbers, passwords, mother’s maiden name, birth date, PIN, or personal information over the phone, unless you initiated the call
- Keep SSN off of driver’s license
- Don’t carry SS card in wallet unless you need it that day
- Don’t use last 4 digits of SSN as a Personal Identification Number (PIN). Memorize PINs!
- Don’t let clerks handwrite SSN on checks as ID
- Don’t have SSN preprinted on Checks (re-order them without SSN)
Know when you have to give your SSN and when you don’t!
Must Give SSN:
- Credit Union/banks
- Income tax records
- Vehicle registration
- Credit bureau reports
- College records
- Loan applications
May Want to Refuse:
- Over the phone
- On personal checks
- On driver’s license
- On club membership
- As ID for store purchases
- As general identification
Protect Your Computer
- Install and update current virus software
- Install firewall software to partially guard against spyware
- To see if computer is infected with spyware, install spyware detection and removal software (such as Spybot Search and Destroy, or Ad-aware)
- Install a spam blocker, free from antiphishing.org
- Use a secure browser-it scrambles information you send over the internet
More tips to protect your computer...
- Don’t download files or open attachments from strangers
- Only open attachments your expecting
- Don’t click on link from unfamiliar senders
- Use strong passwords-combination of letter (upper and lower case), numbers and symbols
- Avoid automatic log-in; always log off when done
- Securely erase your hard drive before disposing of your computer
- Re-format hard drive (reinstall Windows), or
- Use hard drive erase utility
Online Prevention Tips
- Shop only companies you know
- Use secure browser (look for closed padlock or unbroken key at bottom of browser window-not payment page)
- Pay only with credit card, or with third-party intermediary (you have some protections if merchandise is defective, not as described, or is not received at all)
- Consider using a separate credit card for online purchases, to track purchases easily
- What is ID Theft?
- How to prevent ID Theft.
- Detect Suspicious Activity
- What To Do if You Fall Victim
- Closed Account Notification System